It looks like a different world to now. People look more nervous in the photographs, like they’re not used to being in them. And though there is colour in some of the photographs, it’s often tinted in. This is a world that was lived mostly in black and white. On the relatively few televisions. In all the newspapers. And in the monthly magazine I treasured in the early to mid 1960s, ‘Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly.’ Which I’ve been remembering this week because I borrowed a book of the ‘best of’ it from Allerton Library.
And what a treasure it is. Depicting a world where the beginning of success for any young footballer appears to be signified by being asked to sign their autograph. A world where all goalkepers are ‘doughty custodians.’ Where brilliant young Pele of Brazil outrageously appears to be presented as the only black person on earth. But also a world where footballers clearly live amongst the communities that support them.
Which takes me, of course back to the north of Liverpool where I grew up. After being born in Walton and spending my very early years in Diana Street, just by Everton’s ground – where every other Saturday I’d stand in the window watching the thousands of people who’d stream past to the turnstiles, fifty yards from where we lived – we moved out to the suburbs where, I was to find, most of the Everton and Liverpool players lived too.
Not that there was some kind of celebrity guide to the homes of the rich and famous published. For a start they weren’t very rich. The houses they lived in were ‘club houses’ not theirs for the most part. And compared to footballers now, they weren’t all that famous. But to us they were gods and only The Beatles breathed the same air. But we knew where they lived because of the boy grapevine. Someone would be spotted, washing his car or taking in the shopping ‘for’ his beehived wife. And word would go round.
And we would go and get their autographs. In special little autograph books. We’d always go in twos. I’ve no idea how this method was arrived at. We must have realised instinctively that going mob-handed would have resulted in us being seen off. Whereas going on your own, even though none of us knew the actual word then, was a bit like stalking them.
So we’d go in twos and give each other courage. Who was going to knock? Who’d speak first?
Most of my hunting was done with my main friends Barry Ward or Paul Du Noyer. But never with both at the same time. And each of them was free to hunt with others, particularly where a player lived in a particular other boy’s neighbourhood. This practice led Paul and another boy into their most terrifying autographic incident. When they woke feared Liverpool hard-man Tommy Smith from his afternoon nap!
Full post: https://asenseofplaceblog.wordpress....09/autographs/